The Marriage Proposal
When my partner proposed, I have to say I was pretty shocked; ready and up for getting married, but shocked none-the-less! The setting couldn’t have been more perfect. Under the pretense of a mountain biking trip my lovely fella had booked a weekend on Comino, with a stay in the seafront bungalows that form part of the one and only hotel on the tiny island. Having cycled all day, we walked down to the infamous Blue Lagoon after all the tourists had left on the last ferries back to Malta and Gozo. This is definitely the best way to experience the Blue Lagoon. Having the crystal clear, sky blue waters all to yourself at sunset is something else. So, under the emerging stars while the phosphorescence lit up the lagoon and firesticks flickered on the surrounding beach, the deed was done and a resounding yes echoed around the rocky shores of Comino.
Dreams Of A Beach Wedding
The proposal came in October and we decided to wait until after Christmas to start planning the wedding, just to give us some swooning time before the hard work kicked in and our lives became dominated with wedding talk. When we eventually set the date we opted for August of that year due to availabilities of friends from faraway places. That gave us 8 months to plan and execute the wedding of the year. Easier said than done.
Having researched many options both in the UK and abroad, we decided that Malta had been good to us for the two years we’d been residents and it felt right that we would marry there too. With such an amazing climate and stunning Mediterranean coastline, we dreamt of having our wedding on the beach. Not knowing where to start made the initial research stage quite stressful and resulted in many dead ends. We eventually found out you can’t marry on a beach but can have a reception there so proceeded down this route while also looking for a location to hold a civil ceremony beforehand.
Our Venue Choices
Still concentrating on the beach wedding which had now adopted a Bedouin Theme requiring some set-up, we contacted an events company called Jugs of Malta. They were very good and took us to see many beaches from Golden Bay to Paradise Bay, Gnejna and Armier Bay. All good options. The company applied for permits for use of the beaches – be warned, the permits can take 6-8 weeks to be approved. However, there were a number of things that we hadn’t thought of which scuppered our progress. Predominantly, we were trying to section off a beach or beach area in peak tourist season. Even though we got our permits granted, it became apparent that did not mean our area would be secure – even if we hired a policeman to help cordon it off. We ran into problems with many of the beach hotels who had sunbeds on the areas and were also advised that the Maltese locals will not be moved off their beach for anyone, which would result in uncomfortable issues on the day. In the end, the option carried too many uncertainties so we abandoned it. Had we had flexibility on our date and moved the wedding to a quieter time, it would have been fine.
The Bedouin Bar, Westin Resort, Malta
Fortunately we had been advised on a backup option by Jugs of Malta. The Bedouin Bar at the Westin provided a good compromise in that it was on the sea edge on a rocky peninsula and played home to a small beach. Not the sweeping romantic beach we had in mind but a much safer option in that all facilities were in place and The Westin staff were highly professional, food standards were top rate and everyone had experience of handling weddings. A sigh of relief was breathed all round.
Palazzo Parisio, Naxxar, Malta
In the meantime, we had been looking into a civil ceremony venue. It is possible to marry at The Westin but we had our hearts set on The Palazzo Parisio by this point. An amazing Maltese ‘palazzo’ or stately home, Palazzo Parisio is available for civil ceremonies that can be performed in their stunning courtyard gardens or inside in the magnificent stately rooms. We opted for drinks on the terrace and a ceremony in the gardens. The Palazzo Parisio wedding team were really helpful and guided us through every stage, documenting every conversation we had clearly. They also put us in touch with the registrar and told us what we needed to do and by when.
The Finishing Touches
For us, selecting and securing the venues was the biggest headache. Once this was in place, the rest came more easily. The Westin took care of the ‘cake of cheese’ we wanted even though the concept was new and bizarre to them and also gave us details of cost-effective alcohol suppliers and a very good flower company who advised us perfectly. Jugs of Malta worked with us to secure the decor and entertainment including luxuries such as fire dancers and the XFM DJ who was amazing. As we were quite specific about the kind of band we wanted, we took this on ourselves. As Malta operates very much on word-of-mouth it can be difficult to find information if you are not immersed in the local community. There isn’t vast amounts of information online so finding an indie/rock-pop band was pretty time-consuming. Eventually, however, we tracked down The Does who are a local band that spent a while playing in bands in the UK and developed a passion for this genre of music. We had a beer with them and discussed what we wanted including song lists and so on. They were highly flexible and nice chaps to boot! On the night they got the party going and we’ve had great feedback on them since. Thank god as we hadn’t heard them play live before we booked them!
As we had guests staying at various hotels and also had two locations to get to and from on the wedding day, we put a lot of effort into ensuring transport was laid on for everyone. With the help of an existing taxi contact we were able to arrange mini buses to do hotel collections to the wedding and also be available for airport transfers and for guests who wanted to take trips around Malta while here. For the venue transfers we found the perfect solution in the form of two vintage Maltese buses. Characteristic of the island, the buses were a real talking point and meant we could get everyone from the Palazzo Parisio to The Westin in one foul swoop. As it was so hot we gave out ice pops on the bus and used fans as favours for each guest; perhaps one of our wisest purchases as the temperature hit the high 30’s on the day!
The Big Day
In the end, all of the planning was well worth the effort. Many of our guests incorporated their summer holiday with the wedding and had an amazing time. We made more work for ourselves as we produced a website and an information booklet including meeting places for the evenings in case people wanted to meet up. While it was pretty tiring for us as we had to be there every night, it really worked out well as people went off to do their own thing in the day then met up to see us and talk about it all in the evening. The booklets meant everyone knew what was going on, had all the phone numbers they needed and gave them the freedom to plan their days accordingly.
The day itself went swimmingly – quite literally – we all ended up in the Med at the end of the night! From the ceremony at the Palazzo Parisio where we had champagne and Mojitos on the lawn surrounded by walls of blooming flowers, to the Malta bus ride and the beach bar atmosphere at the Westin, the day was everything we wanted it to be. Jugs and The Westin came through with a billowing white wedding set-up and brilliant entertainment while our guests embraced their holiday mood and partied hard until the early hours. As we stumbled into our room at The Westin, dripping with sea water, wedding outfits ruined but with massive smiles on our faces, we were so happy and relieved it was done, that it went well and that we had heads full of happy memories to last a lifetime. Thanks Malta – you’ll always have a special place in our hearts!